If you are living in New Jersey then your children’s social studies classes may not be the same anymore after the New Jersey State Assembly passed a bill that could see school children taught how to interact with police as a part of their social studies class.
The bill will ensure that school children are taught “mutual cooperation and respect” when interacting with police. The lessons will begin in Kindergarten and continue all the way up until graduation.
The introduction of the bill raised a lot of concerns with some arguing that the citizens were not the only parties responsible for the way the police engage with the public. The critics argued the bill implied that the citizens were responsible for the civil servant’s behavior when it comes to engaging with the public. This bill comes at a time when police interactions with (brown) civilians are at an all time high and some activist are skeptical of the bill’s true intentions.
Zellie Imani, a New Jersey teacher, explains that the law doesn’t empower young black and brown children but instead, it empowers law enforcement by allowing them to continue to evade accountability for abuse and misconduct while forcing the burden on the public.
The main ambassador and sponsor for this bill are Sheila Oliver a New Jersey black Assemblywoman. Oliver argued that considering the recent string of shootings the bill is simply about preparation and “rebuilding” trust.
Looking at the case of Tamir Rice and Philando Castile who were allegedly innocent but were both killed by police in the recent past it is not in order to declare that only the citizens have an issue when engaging with police as the bill implicates. The above examples clearly show that maybe it was high time that the police were also taught how to relate with citizens and not the other way round. The bill which passed 76-0 will have to be passed by the Senate to become a law to begin in 2018.